The states of God

(Okay, one aside: In the real world, as opposed to the sweet land of mathematics, you don’t prove things; you pile up evidences until you are convinced. If you’re convinced Germany exists and isn’t some monstrous hoax, you know what sort of “convinced” I’m talking about.)

If “God” means “the God who created Adam and Eve” then sorry, no dice; that God doesn’t exist. There’s no place in what we know (with sufficient certainty) about the world for a sudden seven-day popping-up, and all animals and plants rising up all at once.

(Then again, I sometimes think how lucky we atheists are some residual stodginess prevents almost all Christians from going full Loki: if God is all-powerful then the bugger can of course perfectly hide its tracks too, and paint over the road from Eden with a few billion years of earlier history created much later. The day the Loki Christians become the majority, the debate will first become meaningless, and then they will win it.)

If “God” means “the God who took Israel out of Egypt”, then that God does not exist; the story as it is told in the Old Testament cannot be true as it is told because archeology does not seem to bend anything like that way. There’s no evidence for Israel having been in Egypt; there’s no evidence of their tumultuous arrival out of Sinai into the Promised Land. The numbers of the story are ludicrous, there are no confirmations from other sources, and there’re no signs of millions wandering in the desert of Sinai for forty years. (Where are the bones? The pottery?) Those aren’t proof, of course; just evidence. But evidence is all we’re going to have, and the Exodus is a huge blip to be assumed to have just slipped out of all historical record. Sometimes the absence of evidence is evidence for the absence; we don’t live in a nicely perfect world of inferences. (“Mr. Pharaoh, those Jews that escaped ten years ago… reports say their spiral around Sinai is coming close to our borders again.”)

If “God” means “the God which performed miracles while disguised as Jesus son of Joseph” — well, things do not look good for Him either. What we know about Jesus’s life is from the Gospels alone — other supposed sources tend to be written still later, and only recount what Christians themselves believed — and the Gospels are certainly tainted with a lot of polemical, sectarian and lunatic material added later. (And much adoration: think of  George Washington and the cherry tree. Adoration is poison to accuracy.) The question of which of the things told of Jesus are true stories is a really excellent argument starter at parties. What remains, though — or what we have before stripping anything away — isn’t anything too different from tales about Apollonius of Tyana, or Sabbatai Sevi, or many other magicians, would-be godlings and supposed messiahs. (Or King Arthur!) If random chance had picked Apollonius, or Simon bar Kokhba, or any other character as the one to have many later followers, we would be just as used to the miracle tales (such wonderful, inspiring literature!) and just as comfortable with the supposed overall message, many times reworked. The origins are similar; the consequences that soak our lives are not very pertinent to judging their origins. As most people seem unwilling to accept Apollonius as a genuine sorceror, they really shouldn’t think it sensible to regard Jesus as one either. There surely isn’t anything that requires divine intervention in what we know; no idols made of metals not found on this world, or the like. (Even if the miracle tales weren’t made up, or grossly grown in telling, does anyone really think the cultists, though honest and sober, would be inclined to report the deeds of their hero and paragon fairly?)

What about the intangible God that just gives moral law and intuitions of goodness? Well, that God is worse off than those above. Pick any denomination you want: if it has the age, its priests were no doubt preaching all manner of distasteful things a century or a few ago, and there didn’t seem to be too many whispers from God to tell them they were mistaken. If there’s a God that’s in any way interested in giving us tips about morality, He’s an inept and uncaring fella: fifty years ago many of his spokesmen were saying segregation’s a-okay; a century ago many of his spokesmen and great numbers of the flock male and female were mutually certain girls were easily tempted and quite inferior. A thousand years ago, halfway back to the supposed big and good teacher, his spokesmen were all for giving a sword to the infidel point-first, and letting God sort out the just and the unjust in the postmortem. Some priests have had good, progressive ideas; they may even have been a sizable minority; but if their lot really had a divine moral law and a pipeline to God, why there weren’t more of them? Why the centuries of stupid, arrogant discriminatory bullshit? Why didn’t, say, the Southron priests that damned Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King get a whisper that they were doing something wrong? If God really gave a message about equality and all the modern moral jazz, He was the worst communicator of the millennium. Here’s a thought: take a mild-mannered priest of today and set her down in any past period, and she’ll be killed as an abominable, ungodly heretic in five minutes or less by her own kin. (“What! A woman priest! How ludicrous! And what is this fever dream about the abolition of the divine right of kings, and of tolerance towards infidels and sodomites? Silence, foul temptress! I the Pope has spoken!”)

What about the God that does not interfere or appear in history; the God that expresses Himself in constantly changing messages from other ways of knowing? The God that’s all for nondescript good things like “compassion” and has always been, with us humans left shouldering the blame for bad judgments assigned to Him? Well, that’s an easy God to defend, as there’s nothing there to defend. (As for compassion, sure: that’s what the inquisitors whispered as they lighted the pyre to get the poor sinner to Heaven; that’s what the godly men felt when they locked and veiled their women away from temptations and emotions too strong for them; that’s the motive of the father that tries to beat the demon of gayness out of his son. Without good judgment compassion’s a meaningless, neutral thing.)

One Response to “The states of God”

  1. Sigma Says:

    Your Loki God strongly reminds me of the Omphalos Hypothesis. Dunno how that makes them win the debate, though.

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